Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Speech (SPEECH/01/415), 27 September 2001

FOOD LAW / EUROPEAN FOOD AUTHORITY - General Food Law and the European Food Authority: Speech by David BYRNE to the Internal Market, Consumer Affairs, Tourism Council

One of the Community's main objectives flowing from the Nice European Council conclusions is to ensure that the European Food Authority can commence its operations as soon as possible in 2002. As the Commissioner responsible for food safety I am personally committed to ensuring that, from the Commission's point of view, everything is done to meet this timetable.

So far - things are on track. The Swedish Presidency must be congratulated for its success in driving this proposal through its first reading and the Belgian Presidency has also pressed forward and made excellent progress on this key piece of legislation.

It is now essential to move forward and find resolution to the remaining differences between the institutions.

In substance, I believe there is little between us. I am encouraged by the spirit of co-operation being demonstrated on all sides to seek effective solutions to the few remaining problems.

In addition to the discussions on the Regulation, the Commission is working on the practical planning aspects necessary to create a new, independent, complex organisation.

We have already hosted two meetings of an Interim Advisory Forum with the senior officials from the national food agencies at which technical and scientific matters have been discussed, and further meetings are planned before the end of the year.

But we are also very conscious of the need to establish the constituent elements of the Authority as soon as possible after the adoption of the Regulation. We must all seek to ensure that the Authority is a real, functioning body, and not just a creature on the European statute book.

Our aim is to have a first meeting of the Board as early as possible in Spring of 2002, which should facilitate an early selection of the Executive Director. The appointment of the members of the Scientific Committee and Panels and the formal setting up of the Advisory Forum should follow shortly after.

Therefore, as soon as a stable political agreement is reached - we hope no later than December - we need to do everything possible to launch the three following processes:

If we want to rebuild public trust in the safety of the food chain, we will all need to devote time and effort to make these nomination processes as simple and fast as possible.

As regards operational needs, I think that it is important to draw your attention again to the importance of choosing a seat for the Authority that facilitates its efficient and effective functioning.

Such a location should be easily accessible there will be, for example, around 3000 visits of scientists per year -one which allows the Authority to work closely with the Commission and all Member States, and facilitates an overall consistency of risk communication and management especially in time of food crises. This location should also assist the recruitment and retention of several hundred highly specialised staff and their families.

In conclusion, President, may I say that discussions on this text have been marked by flexibility, mutual confidence and goodwill among the institutions. I urge that you continue to give this Regulation the highest priority and move it forward without delay and make all efforts to avoid complicated conciliation so that this Regulation can be adopted by the end of the year.

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